Truck Driver Was Allegedly Watching Porn On His Phone Before Deadly Crash

Tate R. Doom was behind the wheel of a semi when it crashed, setting off a chain of collisions that ended in the death of highway worker Vernon C. Hedquist in 2018.

By Eric Shorey

A truck driver accused of causing the death of a highway worker had allegedly been watching pornographic videos on his phone moments before crashing his vehicle.

Tate R. Doom, 47, of St. Paul Park, was charged Friday with criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation. Doom's semi rear-ended a pickup truck and trailer on a Twin Cities interstate, the latter of which struck and killed highway worker Vernon C. Hedquist on Oct. 2, 2018. Investigators looking into the death seized Doom's phone and discovered that he had deleted 14 videos from Pornhub.com that he had allegedly been watching up to 90 seconds before the collision.

Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the County Attorney's Office, said in a statement on Monday that he suspects "that based on the investigation ... he was watching pornography at the time of [impact]," according to The Star Tribune of Minneapolis. 

Doom said that the last time he had used either of the two cell phones in his possession was at a work-related stop in Big Lake, Minnesota, according to KSTP of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He also claimed that he had only been driving 50 mph. Investigators say he had actually been traveling at a speed of closer to 72 mph, two miles an hour above the limit.

Hedquist had been a longtime Minnesota Department of Transportation employee just shy of his 60th birthday. Cindy Hedquist, his wife, is now mourning his loss.

Tate Doom

"He absolutely was very concerned about his safety on the job," Cindy told The Star Tribune less than 24 hours after learning of her husband's death.

Fellow highway worker Thomas J. Wood was struck by vehicle debris but survived.

Doom was employed by Vermeer of Minnesota, a company that sells equipment for recycling and forestry, at the time of the accident.

Doom is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Aug. 12. On August 1, Minnesota will enact a law that prevents drivers from holding their cell phones while behind the wheel, according to Newsweek.

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